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Excelling in sports despite all odds

Our legendary sportsmen like Jahangir Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis went through a series of fitness issues in their illustrious international careers

Excelling in sports despite all odds
Waqar Younis (left) and Wasim Akram

In the past, the most important quality in a world-class sportsperson would be his or her skills. Today, it’s all about physical and mental fitness. The fitter you are the better you would perform. That’s the reason why Pakistan today lag behind in sports it used to dominate. Sports like squash and hockey, in which Pakistan used to be an undisputed powerhouse, have changed over the years. The key factor now is the player’s fitness levels, his speed and his endurance. Our athletes are, to put it simply, not good enough.

In this weekly column, we get expert advise from a panel of eminent specialists who are available to answer all your queries about sports injuries, nutrition and how to get fit.

Q: I am 19 years old and love playing cricket. Last year I was diagnosed with diabetes. How can I manage my diabetes and continue my game or is it too dangerous for my health? –Sajid Khan

A: Thank you for your question. Having diabetes and being in love with cricket, the most important element you need is discipline. Discipline will not only help you better manage your diabetes but will also help you become a good cricketer. The legendary cricketer Wasim Akram is a shining example.

In order to become a successful sportsperson, it is absolutely essential to control your diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes will make your muscles weak. On the other hand, controlled diabetes will help you evolve into a stronger and better player.

Diet, exercise and medicines are three pillars of diabetes management. You need to take care of all three pillars. Cut down carbohydrates and avoid oily food. Increase plant based and low-fat animal based proteins in your diet. Maintain adequate water and fibre intake. Have a proper exercise schedule. Try to keep your weight normal. Take medicines regularly, be it tablets or insulin, whatever is prescribed by your specialist. The bottom line is; keep your blood sugar levels controlled.

It is pertinent to note that you may need to reduce the dose of insulin or oral medicines before a hectic workout. Snacks before workouts may be needed. Do discuss this with your physician.

Don’t get overhauled with your diabetes. You’ll keep learning the tricks of the trade as time passes. Keep following the advise of your endocrinologist as well as your dietician. I hope that you continue to enjoy your cricket and keep your diabetes under check.

Dr. Ali Asghar

MRCP (UK), FACE (USA) Fellowship in Diabetes & Endocrinology

Assistant Professor

Department of Diabetes,

Endocrinology and Metabolism

Q: I am a college student, and athletics is my passion. I participate in 100 meters, 200 metres and 400 metres race, but my dream is to be a 100 meter sprinter. My body physique is very lean and thin, and as I see on TV, most of the 100 metres race champions are very muscular. Please advise me how to develop my body muscles for me to be a good sprinter? –Adil Ali

A: Dear student, it’s good to hear from a young adult who pursues a healthy routine and aspires to excel among the competition.

Since you have said that your body type is somewhat lean so you must understand that for a sprinter, apart from the muscle strength, cardiopulmonary endurance and fitness is a must. As you are already an athlete so you just need to polish that a bit. Coming to the muscle strength and endurance, the 100 metre sprint emphasises purely on strength, flexibility and power and hence requires high demand of energy reservoirs in muscles. In the 100 metre sprint, it takes 1-2 sec for the rate of glycolysis.

Very importantly you should focus on your diet and nutrition to gain a muscular built to develop phosphocreatinine and ATP stores as you don’t have enough time in a sprint to draw glycogen from other sources. Also focus on anaerobic training.

Your body physique should be muscular at the calves, hamstrings and the core strength should be adaptable to bear stress under the shortest interval of time. Training of individual muscles can protect you from fatigue and ligamentous strains.

The upper body also plays an important role to increase the torque during running. Here I can tell you some beginner level exercises which can help you. Make sure you do these exercise under the supervision of a trainer or therapist. These exercises include generalized stretching, tuck jumps, rocket jumps, lunges, line hops, skips for distance, forward weight throws and overhead weight throws.

Syed Hasan Abbas Rizvi

Principal & Associate Professor

Doctor of Physiotherapy, MSPT, BSPT, BSc (Physiology), PGD (Speech Language Pathology)


Q: I play club cricket and my aim is to play first-class cricket, with an ambition to be an international cricketer one day. I have developed a swelling in my groin, and my friends are saying it’s a hernia and I better get it operated, but my fear is that once operated, I might not be able to play big cricket. I am 20 years old. –Saqib Waheed

 A: First of all you need to have it seen by a general surgeon who can diagnose if it is a hernia or not. Hernia is a generally reducible groin swelling which comes at times of straining. The usual complain is that it comes on while walking and goes back in when lying down.

Inguinal hernias at your age need to be operated upon. You can play cricket after at least 3 month abstinence from any strenuous activity and clearance from your surgeon. However there have been instances where activity can be painful initially because of the mesh that is used for repair. Laparoscopic hernia repair is less painful then open hernia surgery. Hernia surgery has not stopped anyone from playing competitive world class sports and I am sure it won’t stop you from fulfilling your first class cricket dream.

Dr. Faisal Siddiqui


Assistant Professor

Department of General Surgery


Q: I am an 18 years old fast bowler. My line, length and speed is vastly appreciated among the cricketers and my team-mates. I shall be attending the trials of Pakistan under-19s. My question is that as I deliver my 8th or 9th over, a backache develops which increases as I bowl the next over. I am very worried because I heard of stress fractures mostly cricketers suffer on shin or back which could stop their career. Need your advise? –Sameer Khan

A: It’s great to know that a young fast bowler is making progress in his career and concern about his health. Cricket fast bowling consists of actions which transfer stress to the trunk with various actions of rotation and sudden forward and backward movement at the delivery stride. It is obvious from your question that you are able to bowl 8 overs without any difficulty and your back starts to hurt in remaining overs. You formally need an evaluation of your spine for any pars interartuclaris defects as this becomes the cause of lumbar stress fractures. There are certain things that your physiotherapist should look into, the foremost being the bowling technique and bowling action. You can be advised a change in the bowling technique depending upon the clinical findings. Your physio should follow a proper warm up before the match and proper Rest periods before the next bowling spell and also back strengthening exercise may help you to overcome your problems. Hope this helps in eliminating your back problem.

Dr. Muhammad Kazim Rahim

MD, FCPS (Ortho) A.O. Fellow (Germany), Sports medicine Fellow (IRI) (France),

Hip and Knee Arthroplasty Fellowship (PAS, Pak)

Assistant Professor

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery


(All the specialists on our experts’ panel are associated with Liaquat
National Hospital. Please send your queries at [email protected] or [email protected])

Khalid Hussain

khalid hussain
The author is Editor Sports of The News. He can be reached at [email protected]

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